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Dengue drops sharply in 2021

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A boy is treated for dengue fever at the National Pediatric Hospital in Phnom Penh in 2019. Hong Menea

Dengue drops sharply in 2021

The number of dengue fever cases decreased sharply in 2021 with only 1,400 cases recorded, indicating a nearly ten-fold drop compared to 2020 when nearly 14,000 cases were recorded, health officials have said.

Leang Rithea, dengue control programme manager at the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control told The Post on January 4 that according to figures from the National Dengue Control Programme, only 1,400 some cases of dengue fever were recorded in 2021.

He also said that unfortunately even with those low case numbers there were three people who had lost their lives to the disease. Kandal, Kampong Cham and Siem Reap provinces as well as Phnom Penh had the highest number of infections.

“Compared to 2020, the number of people developing dengue fever dropped to just 10 per cent. In 2021, we brought the disease under control because we started working from the beginning of the year and our people became more aware of how to prevent it.

“They’ve increased their participation in cleaning up the environment, eliminating mosquito sources. And now when people have a fever they come to the hospital sooner,” Rithea said.

Citing a combination of factors, Leang Rithea sees that the dengue fever will continue to drop because 2022 is not the year of an outbreak and the people joined the government as the government takes measures to curb it in a timely manner.

“For 2022, we still work according to the national plan just like every year. We go to educate and advertise in communities to make them aware or they have a fever and rush to a hospital. We will continue to train both public and private doctors twice in the dry season and the rainy season,” he said.

Rithea continued that this year, the National Dengue Control Programme had prepared more than 200 tonnes of pills of anti-dengue larvicide Abate and about 7,000 litres of mosquito spray and other materials for distribution to destinations across the country.

Back in 2019, Cambodia had nearly 50 deaths from dengue fever and nearly 70,000 cases that year. Rithea confirmed that the increase in dengue fever in 2019 was part of a cyclical increase in dengue fever that occurred every five years.

Kandal provincial Department of Health director Kuy Bunthoeun told The Post that since this year was not the peak year in the dengue outbreak cycle, the number of infections is lower accordingly. Kandal is the most populous province, yet its figures look more like those of other provinces.

He said that in 2021 the number of dengue cases in his province was 215 or six times fewer than in 2020 due partly to prevention efforts but also because of the dengue cycle.

“We can better control the situation now with education, advertising and distributing the anti-dengue mosquito larvicide Abate to people. We continue to do so even though the number of patients is small,” he said.

Bunthoeun said he expected that through both national and sub-national measures the rate of dengue infections in 2022 will go down further, but people should still be careful and do what they can to prevent infection, especially during the rainy season.

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